Food ad promoting meat part of a ‘balanced diet’ attracts 500 complaints from vegans

A food advert promoting meat as part of a ‘balanced diet’ has attracted 500 complaints from vegans.

The £1.5 million campaign from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), titled ‘We Eat Balanced’, was first launched in January to ‘drive a positive rethink of red meat and dairy’.

But it appears to have caused outrage amongst vegans by encouraging people to increase their intake of the two food groups.

One of the ad’s statements that people have objected to reads: “Beef, pork, lamb and milk contain vitamin B12, an essential nutrient not naturally present in the vegan diet.”

People who consume a plant-based diet have claimed that the information is false.

The ad received 500 complaints from plant-based eaters

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) told LADbible: “We received 487 complaints, including from Humane League UK, The Vegan Society, Compassion in World Farming UK, Four Paws, PETA, Surge Campaigning CIC, Brinsley Animal Rescue and Viva!”

Other people on Facebook have also fumed about the advert.

One raged: “We should take notice of our earth and stop eating meat and harming our poor animals. Learn the facts.”

Whilst a second person added: “Really? How desperate do the meat and dairy industry have to be to put an ad out on TV spouting absolute lies about it being healthy for you?”

Woman eating meat
The advert was launched to ‘drive a positive rethink of red meat and dairy’

Not everyone was upset by the campaign though.

One farmer hit back to say: “We farmers and crofters do a damn good job of looking after our livestock and tending to the land and caring for it.

“Vegans, that’s fine if you want to be one, but do not tell us we are cruel and damaging the world.”

None of the complaints were upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) though.

AHDB’s Chief Communications and Market Development Officer Christine Watts said: “For British farming this is an important day as we can continue to communicate the benefits around consuming red meat and dairy as part of a balanced diet.”

The ASA ruling stated: “In any case, there was nothing in the ad to suggest that those animals exclusively ate plants that could not be eaten by humans.

“We considered that the ads did not go so far as to suggest that the scenes shown were representative of all livestock farming in the UK, or that farming had a minimal environmental impact.”

A disheartened Louise Davies, Head of Campaigns at the Vegan Society, said: “We still strongly believe by running these adverts the AHDB set out to purposely mislead the public at a time when a record-breaking number of people were trying veganism through the Veganuary campaign.

“Despite the outcome we hope the huge number of complaints submitted to the ASA will encourage the ADHB and similar bodies to think twice before resorting to such scare tactics again in future.”

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